Alvord Lake is a seasonal, alkali lake. The Alvord Lake playa is bounded by Steens Mountains to the west, the Alvord
Desert to the north and east, has a northern edge 3.8 miles south of Andrews,
Oregon, and is about 8 miles north of Fields, Oregon. The playa is approximately 4 miles long and one and 3/4 miles wide. The Alvord margins are defined by wet meadows and salt desert vegetation on the west, and dunes and salt desert vegetation on the east. Waters from Wildhorse Creek and other streams flowing from the east side of Steens Mountain occasionally feed into Alvord Lake, as does the ouflow from Borax Lake on the SE and Trout Creek on the east. Most of the immediate area draining into Alvord Lake from the south is charachterized by white, crusty, highly alkaline soils.
This IBA includes Alvord Lake and an as of yet undefined extent of the Alvord Basin.
Supports small numbers of nesting Snowy Plovers, >100 shorebirds in migration, >2000 waterfowl in migration. Also, whether in this IBA or the Steens Mountain IBA, Black-throated Sparrows are consistent along the east flank of the Steens here. Sandhill Cranes nest in wet meadows and wetlands around Alvord Lake, mostly on the north end (7 pairs in 1999/2000 per Gary Ivey). Other species documented by BLM in recent years include: Eared, Clark's and Western Grebe, Great Egret, mallard, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Cinnamon Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, Lesser Scaup, White-faced Ibis, Northern Harrier, Prairie Falcon, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, Long-billed Curlew, Western Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope, Franklin's Gull, Ring-billed Gull, California Gull, Black Tern, Common Nighthawk, Loggerhead Shrike, Common Raven, Horned Lark, Sage Thrasher, Sage Sparrow, Western Meadowlark.